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Gossip – Miami Style

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Working at a university, I have great access to unique resources. Using the latest software from our Center for Computational Time Wasting, I came to the conclusion that the average human being spends on average 7 million hours gossiping. This amounts to 8 hours a day. The average goes up considerably when the Miami Herald publishes speculations about Castro’s death, but using a smoothing function that controls for rumors about the premature death of Latin American dictators, we are pretty sure that 8 hours per day is about right.

Given that most people sleep for about 8 hours, watch TV for about 6 hours, and struggle with constipation in the toilet for about 2 hours, it is abundantly clear that ALL of their gossip is done at work, which explains why our economy is in such abysmal state and why GM had to recall 2.6 million cars.

Gossiping is such an epidemic that I decided to do some research on it. I, of course, never gossip, so I lacked any personal experience with the phenomenon. As a result, I had to rely on validated tools to collect data: random eavesdropping. I chose a representative sample of visitors to the broadwalk in Hollywood Beach, Florida (don’t even try to call it a boardwalk). The two and a half mile stretch by the ocean invites populations from all over the world to congregate for daily gossip conventions. I can detect what passersby are saying only in a few languages, but using the latest google glasses I surreptitiously record and translate what I do not get, which is usually in Russian and involves the words Absolut, Smirnoff, and vomit.

The following is a list of the ten most frequent gossip statements emitted by broadwalk visitors:

  1. Pepe (not his real name, his real name is José) never pays child support
  2. Sofia’s plastic surgery came out awful (her real name, used with permission)
  3. Castro, Castro, Castro, Castro (real name, used without permission)
  4. Dovid is a putz
  5. Faigel (real name) is such an Alte Makhsheyfe (old witch, in Yiddish) (reproduced with permission from Faigel’s daughter in law)
  6. They don’t know how to make beer here (Quebecois visitor)
  7. They don’t know how to make vodka here (Russian couple)
  8. Victoria/Gabriela/Yolanda/Amanda cheats on him
  9. Dovid is going out with Victoria / Gabriela/ Yolanda / Amanda, and none of them are Jewish
  10. Faigel has no idea that Dovid (the putz), paid for Sofia’s plastic surgery, before going out with Victoria / Gabriela / Yolanda / Amanda, who now want him to pay for their plastic surgery too

Gossip serves many evolutionary functions such as self-protection. Talking garbage about someone else fills the air and prevents people from contemplating their own foibles. This is a well-known psychological defense mechanism characteristic of 3 year olds, Kim Kardashian, Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin, Dovid the putz, and mayoral candidates in Hialeah. Gossip is essential for procreation too. If people ever stopped gossiping and realized who they were procreating with, it would be the end of the human species, causing the demise of the diaper industry.

Gossip comes in several forms and levels of sophistication, from the pedestrian (Dovid is a putz) to the refined (Something has been on my mind lately. I wonder if you happen to know the whereabouts of the famous banker, Faigel’s former husband, Dovid the putz?).

My observations also revealed that Gossipers come in different personality types:

  • The diarrheic gossiper: Cannot contain herself. Gossip is a force of nature that needs to come out no matter what. Gossips without regard for personal credibility. Procreates a lot
  • The constipated gossiper: Really wants to gossip but cannot come out. Early trauma involved. Victorian upbringing. Sexually repressed. Has problems procreating
  • The closeted gossiper: “I’m going to tell you something that you cannot repeat to anybody.” Gossip usually involves self-aggrandizement and false humility
  • The obsessed gossiper: Focuses on a single subject: Kardashians (half of the US population), Obamacare (John Boehner), missing flights (CNN), catastrophes (Anderson Cooper), Castro (El Nuevo Herald)
  • The benign gossiper: Harmless. Gossips mostly about people you don’t know.
  • The toxic gossiper: You know who you are.

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